Microsoft to Back Cyanogen's Android Efforts
Microsoft has agreed to invest an unknown dollar figure in Cyanogen, which offers a version of Android devoid of Google's strictures. Cyanogen recently raised $70 million in funding, of which Microsoft is playing a minority role say sources cited by the Wall Street Journal. Neither Microsoft nor Cyanogen commented on Microsoft's involvement with the Android software maker, but Cyanogen has big goals. Last week, Cyanogen CEO Kirt McMaster said, "We're going to take Android away from Google." Cyanogen is working with handset makers to have its version of Android preinstalled on devices rather than Google's. It has succeeded with Micromax in India and is working to win over others. Google may offer Android to OEMs for free, but the search giant places strict requirements for handset makers to access the Play Store and other Google services. Cyanogen claims 50 million people have installed its variant of Android on devices, most of whom are enthusiast users who root their device and sideload the operating system.
Hands On with Obi Worldphones
Obi Worldphone is a phone company founded by John Scully, former CEO of Apple. Perhaps not surprisingly, the company focuses on design, with attractive phones proudly "designed in San Francisco".
Gmail for Android Gains Microsoft Exchange Support
Google today said the global Android Gmail app is set to add support for Microsoft Exchange. "Whether you're on Google Apps or Exchange, you can use the Gmail app on any Android device to send and receive mail," said Google in a blog post.
Microsoft Releases Cortana for Android in Beta Form
Microsoft today made its Cortana voice-activated personal assistant available to Android users via the Google Play Store beta channel. The app had previously only been available through a closed beta, but is now accessible through an open beta program.
Microsoft Says It Optimized Skype for Older, Slower Android Devices
Microsoft recently released an updated version of Skype for Android meant for older smartphones. Specifically, this down-tuned variant of Skype is intended for Android devices running 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich to 5.1 Lollipop.
Cyanogen to Shut Down Dec. 31
Cyanogen said it plans to cease developing its open-source version of Android and will shutter its services by the end of the month. "As part of the ongoing consolidation of Cyanogen, all services and Cyanogen-supported nightly builds will be discontinued no later than [December 31]," said the company in a blog post.